EL PASO, Texas -- UTEP's spring 2020 commencement ceremony, which would've been be held this weekend if not for postponement due to the virus pandemic, is now slated for September.
In a statement Thursday, UTEP announced the spring graduation ceremony will be held on Sept. 12 in the Sun Bowl stadium.
University officials said the large outdoor event would ensure social distancing and other health guidelines can be followed.
“This class of graduates has gone through a lot. We thought we should celebrate in a special way, and the Sun Bowl on a September evening will be special,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson, who told ABC-7 she didn't want to do a virtual graduation because it didn't seem very "fun."
She said the Sun Bowl commencement ceremonies would also be live-streamed by the university so that extended family and friends of the graduates will be able to see it.
Wilson said with many people walking in their neighborhoods to get exercise during the pandemic, she suggested El Pasoans wear orange in honor of the UTEP grads who didn't get to walk this year. It's a group of students she couldn't be more proud of this year.
"We are really proud of them, they have achieved something. Look around the world, the percentage of people who achieve a college degree is really quite small and and it's something that no one can take away from them," Wilson explained. "An education is a ticket to a dream in America, and they did it. We are very proud of them."
One graduating senior at UTEP said the pandemic has put strain on the school year, but he's still thankful to be working towards his degree.
"I've just been working through it, pretty much every student has been working through it," Issac Vara said. "It's been a very stressful time. Even though we're going through this pandemic, there's a lot of people who would still love to be in my position."
Wilson also talked Thursday about how UTEP will be doing things a little differently on campus for the upcoming fall semester.
"We actually have a team that is working on this testing some things starting this week, and then over the summer where we have several lab courses that have to be done in person," she offered to ABC-7. "We've identified all the sections we are teaching in the fall and having each faculty member go through and take a look at whether some of it could be by distance or what needs to be in person."
College students will also be undergoing changes to the north at New Mexico State University come the fall semester.
"We're probably going to have one-way hallways and corridors, we will probably have one-way doorways. Capacity of classrooms, will reduce that where we need to. We will probably need to follow some kind of tracing to know where people are at any given time so we can help with contact tracing when the time comes," said NMSU President John Floros.